PHUKET BOAT ACCIDENT: THAI PM VOWS ALL-OUT EFFORTS IN SEARCH, RESCUE OPERATION, TO CONDUCT INVESTIGATION

PHUKET, Thailand July 10 (NNN-Xinhua)Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday pledged to make all-out efforts in the ongoing search and rescue operation in the Phuket boat accident.

Prayut made the promise when visiting the command center for the operation at Chalong Pier in the tourists' attraction island of Phuket.

The prime minister said Thailand and China share brotherhood for hundreds of years, so Chinese people in Thailand, no matter working or travelling, should be taken care of as Thai people.

"I ask all government departments to spare no efforts since Chinese people are our brothers and we must maintain our friendship lasting for hundreds of years," he said.

Accompanied by senior Thai government officials, Prayut told Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian as well as Thai staff engaged in the operation that Thai tourism industry needed to introduce more modern technologies with regard to the rapid development in recent years.

The Thai prime minister later visited Chinese survivors in local hospitals and expressed his condolence to the victims in the accident. Prayut also held talks with the Chinese ambassador to discuss the joint search and rescue efforts.

"We will conduct thorough investigation on the responsibilities for the accident, including whether the government departments had done their jobs well and whether the tourism practitioners had complied with the regulations," the prime minister said.

Chinese Ambassador Lyu Jian told the press that all the Chinese diplomatic mission to Thailand are working hard to implement instructions from China's top leadership, and the search and rescue works have made progress under the cooperation of two countries.

Lyu stressed that he had asked the Thai government to find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible and figure out the parties accountable for any possible misconducts or illegalities.

Phuket Provincial Governor Norraphat Plodthong said here earlier on Monday that 42 people were killed, five were missing and 42 passengers rescued in the capsizal accident of boat "Phoenix."

Forty-one bodies had been retrieved from the water and one body was pressed by the sunken wreckage of "Phoenix" to the seabed, he said. So far 37 bodies had been identified.

The governor told Xinhua that four people did not board the boat so there were actually 89 passengers aboard, instead of the original 93 figure, when "Phoenix" and another tourist boat "Serenita" capsized in rough seas off the southern Thai resort island on Thursday.

Vice Admiral Somnuk Preampramot, commander of the Royal Thai Navy's Third Area Command, said the search for the missing would continue and the rescue teams would attempt to retrieve the passenger body trapped in the "Phoenix" wreckage as well as salvage the wreckage.

Phuket police chief Major General Theerapol Thipcharoen said local police would continue its investigation into the owner companies of the two sunken boats.

He vowed to get to the bottom of the case in order to reveal the truth of the accident. At the same time, the police and other related authorities would learn a lesson from the accident to upgrade Thai maritime safety standards to the international level, he said.NNN-XINHUA

Source: NAM News Network